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Benefits of Online Education

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The Benefits of Online Education
Why take online classes? This question is usually faced by many students nowadays planning to take up college courses. Especially in the military community where many students are working full time. In today’s modern world the demand for online education is astounding. More people opt out for online education because of their busy schedules or because it is difficult for them to travel to and from the university. Other people prefer online education because they can do it on their own pace. Many online universities also offers accelerated courses for the student’s convenience. However, online courses can also a dangerous path for students who does not possess enough discipline or the right study habits. Due to lack of supervision and at many times the procrastination, which I myself have experienced, it can lead to incomplete or withdrawal from the course. Online courses may not be as popular as the traditional education but it can give students many benefits that a traditional college cannot give.
History of Online Education
I cannot tell you the History of Online Education without mentioning distance education, which started the concept of Online Education in the first place. You may have heard many different versions as to where distance learning started, just like any other inventions. But believe it or not, the very first distance learning schools were founded way back before the 1900’s. Of course, there was no internet back on those days so students learned solely from small pamphlets and textbooks that were sent from the college through the postal system whenever a student registered. There were no tests involved and students were free to study completely at their own pace; once they finished one lesson plan then all they had to do was mail the college and request the next one. According to the California Distance Learning Project, “Distance education traces its origins to mid-19th century Europe and the United States. The pioneers of distance education used the best technology of their day, the postal system, to open educational opportunities to people who wanted to learn but were not able to attend conventional schools. People who most benefited from such correspondence education included those with physical disabilities, women who were not allowed to enroll in educational institutions open only to men, people who had jobs during normal school hours, and those who lived in remote regions where schools did not exist. An Englishman, Isaac Pitman, is credited as an early pioneer. He began teaching shorthand by correspondence in Bath, England in 1840” ( California. 2011, par. 1). After many years of human innovations and inventions, more technological advances were developed such as the radios, television, personal computer and the internet, the Online Education was born. According to onlineeducation.org, “Online education got its start in the corporate world. In the 1980s, companies started using computer-based programs to train new employees, but this practice was severely limited due to the technology of the time. It wasn’t until the invention of the Internet that this practice began to grow in efficiency. Using the Internet, companies could train new employees who lived in in remote locations, and also chat with them online in order to answer any questions. As companies expanded this process, they found it cut costs: they didn’t have to hire as many trainers because most employees were trained online” (Education, 2014, par.1). After many years of information technological advances humans have created a wonderful cyber community of online college education in which students can learn and interact.
Convenience
The biggest advantage of an online course is that your classroom and instructor are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Your only excuse for missing class is not getting online! Otherwise, everything is available to you. You can get announcements, power point presentations, review assignments, take practice quizzes, open book quizzes or exams, discuss questions, chat with fellow students and study any time you want. Other than certain due dates, you make your own schedule for completing the requirements of the course. You can study any time you want. Online courses give you the flexibility to spend time with work, family, friends, significant others or any other activity you like. According to Kimberly Merriman, “The timeliness and flexibility of online education earn high marks from busy employees and their employers” (Merriman, 2006, p. 81). Online students often find that their family, friends and/or boy-girl-friends get involved in the course. Oftentimes, a student will study with that special someone present. Children may take an interest in the online environment. Parents may look over the shoulder of an online student while they are surfing across the web. In short, everyone in the household gets involved in learning. Having the support of your family and friends makes you more likely to succeed. Another advantage of students is having a direct access to the instructor via e-mail, you can get your questions answered directly. Many students aren't comfortable asking questions in class for fear of feeling stupid or being made fun. It is also an advantage to people who cannot attend a traditional university because of a disability or people who have to take care of their love ones. According to Kristen Betts et.al., “Online learning provides extensive opportunities for individuals with disabilities to enroll in degree and certificate programs” (Kristen Betts et.al, 2013, par.1).
Financial Benefits
Online Education has financial benefits that may help parents and especially students. There are many things we have to consider when studying in an actual University or College. The expenses that we occur may not be visible right away but will hurt our pockets in the long run. According to North Central University, “It is estimated that Students will spend around $100 per course on books, a cost that is lessened by the online infrastructure of the curriculum. In fact, North Central University Students have access to a digital library that contains thousands of e-books, articles and databases to support their education endeavors. In addition to books and tuition, online education saves Students money by eliminating campus transportation, fuel costs, expensive campus housing and costly meal plans” (NCU, 2014, par.3). You may think that buying a computer and paying for Internet access is pretty expensive, consider what it would cost you in gas and parking each month if you were driving to campus. Consider the costs of eating out versus eating at home. Consider the costs for child-care, pet care or any other kind of care that you need to provide while you are away from home. Consider the costs of missing work to make classes or not being eligible for a promotion because you can't attend classes to advance your educational level. These are very tangible benefits of having access to education at home. Students no longer have to buy expensive textbooks because they are available online for a cheap price or for free. Some web-based classes may not require physical textbooks, as reading materials may be available either through the school's own library or their partnerships with e-libraries and other digital publishers. E-textbooks might offer substantial savings for students, adding up to hundreds of dollars a year. An example of a school that offer Ebooks for free is the University of Maryland University College – Stateside. I had the opportunity to take up classes at UMUC- Stateside in which I did not have to spend the book stipend that the Veteran’s Administration gave me because the textbooks were available online for free. According to Darlene Waller, “The emergence of EReaders such as Kindle, Nook, IPad, and others, has boosted the use of electronic books. If a book is in electronic form, you can download it fairly easy. Some electronic books are free and some are for purchase. Most people don’t mind paying because the cost of an electronic book is usually a fraction of the cost of a printed book, and then you consider the convenience of carrying and storing the book, and the advantage of having many books on your reading device and at your fingertips” (Waller, 2013, par.12).
Conclusion
The technology that was once a Hollywood fantasy is now a reality. I remember writing a paper about online education back in the year 2000 and it is amazing that my dream has come to life. Online Education is an opportunity for all students to explore the world without leaving their home. It gives them the front seat preview of modern education at their convenience and in the comfort of their home. What better place to find out about the works of Michelangelo than to virtually go to Italy? And if you participate in global learning days or other online events, you may even meet and make friends with someone in another country. It is a small world, after all. The benefits of Online Education is limitless.

References
n.a. (2011). What is Distance Learning?. Retrieved on October 1, 2014 from http://www.cdlponline.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=whatis&pg=3
n.a (2014). History of Online Education. Retrieved on October 1, 2014 from http://www.onlineeducation.org/what-is-the-history-of-online-education/
Merriman K. HRMagazine. Jan, 2006, Vol. 51 Issue 1, p79, 4 p. Society for Human Resource Management http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.umuc.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=69c9ace2-8ee8-4186-8fb6-cfedf3ffdd2f%40sessionmgr110&vid=3&hid=114 Waller, D. (2013). Current Advantages and Disadvantages of Using E-Textbooks in Texas Higher Education http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.umuc.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=d79b421a-b3c0-4929-bd09-a1cc9e214249%40sessionmgr4002&vid=20&hid=4105 NCU (2014). COSTS OF AN ONLINE EDUCATION VERSUS A TRADITIONAL EDUCATION: http://www.ncu.edu/northcentral-global/tuition/learn-more
Betts, Kristen; Cohen, Alex H.; Veit, Daniel P.; Alphin, Henry C., Jr.; Broadus, Chanel; Allen, Dan
Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, v17 n3 p49-64 Oct 2013. 16 pp. http://www.eric.ed.gov/contentdelivery/servlet/ERICServlet?accno=EJ1018265

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